Thousands of aspiring junior footballers throughout Queensland have had their dreams come true following the conclusion of the annual Macca’s Junior Draft.
The Gold Coast SUNS junior footy initiative has been held over the last four years and aims to help local junior footballers build a longstanding relationship with their player ambassadors while helping our AFL and AFLW players give back to the game.
Similar to the NAB AFL Draft, the Macca’s Junior Draft see’s SUNS players drafted to a local football club or region. During the year they will conduct a wide range of activities with that club or region.
The Ballina Bombers have received AFL Players Charlie Ballard and Luke Towey along with AFLW superstar Alison Drennan whilst the Carrara Saints were lucky enough to have Will Brodie, Jack Hombsch and Sally Riley drafted to their club.
GC SUNS Chief Executive, Mark Evans and Head of AFL Queensland, Trisha Squires were at the Carrara Saints Football Club today following the live draft on goldcoastfc.com.au to deliver the exciting news to President, Michael Spittle, Vice President, Ben Allen and Junior Footy Star, Arlie.
“One of the highlights of our calendar has always been our Macca’s Junior Draft,” Evans said.
“Each year we draft players to local clubs, and that takes place today and pleasingly for Arlie, our Carrara Saints junior footy superstar, he’s going to be training with AFL Players Will Brodie and Jack Hombsch and AFLW Superstar Alison Drennan with his teammates this year.”
2020 was difficult for a large number of Australians and although community sport was able to take place, it did affect the level of support the code’s professional athletes were able to give to the country’s next generation of talented youngsters.
“Pleasingly, we're back in schools and back into junior clubs, this year helping to grow the game in Queensland,” Evans said.
“It’s all part of understanding who our players are and getting this attraction between young kids who are playing and role models that they know, that they see on TV and they can see at Metricon Stadium.”
The impact AFL and AFLW players can have on the next generation shouldn’t be underestimated.
“If you talk to any player, they remember the moment where they first met an AFL player who came down to their Auskick clinic or to their club, it has a profound impact on them,” Evans said.
“On the Gold Coast, you could be the next Connor Budarick, or you could be the next Serene Watson by continuing to participate in your local footy club.”
The game continues to grow from strength to strength throughout the state.
“Queensland has become the new heart of the AFL.”
“Record participation, record attendances, record membership numbers and record TV audiences, the sky is still the limit.
“We know that we're turning Queensland into an AFL state, and plenty of football opportunities that came from last year, and to capitalise on that further this year, so we're just delighted to be back doing that work in the community.”
Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires threw her support behind the work the Gold Coast SUNS are doing in the region.
“AFL Queensland is very supportive of the Macca’s Junior Draft because we know that's where footy starts,” Squires said.
The hard work of many to help grow the game of AFL throughout Queensland is working.
“For the first time ever, we have over 13,000 participants in southeast Queensland playing junior footy which is a big milestone that we only ticked over last night,” Squires said.
“The big news here on the Gold Coast, is that there has been a 15% increase in participation already this year.
“What we're hearing from these registrations is that footy is alive in Queensland.”
“This year we're also giving away free footies and a pump to everyone that signs up for junior footy, so we need to keep encouraging everyone to sign up.”
McDonald’s have been not only a long-term partner of the AFL, AFLQ and the GC SUNS but also the Macca’s Junior Draft since it’s inception.
“At McDonald’s, we are proud to support grassroots sport and in particular the Macca’s Junior Draft which allows kids to share in all of the fun and excitement that footy has to offer in a meaningful way through the McDonald’s AFL SEQ Juniors and our ongoing partnership with the Gold Coast SUNS,” McDonald’s Marketing Manager QLD/NT Alana Inwood said.
“This program serves as an extension of this vision, allowing us to bring to life our support of junior footy by aligning ourselves with the people and clubs that make it so special in our local communities.”
To see a full list of draftees and to which club or region they got drafted watch the announcement video below.